SFU to advance Aboriginal entrepreneurship with RBC gift

Apr 28, 2015

A $1.3 million gift from RBC will enable Simon Fraser University to prepare the next generation of Aboriginal leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation.

The gift will be used to fund two separate initiatives at SFU designed to further Aboriginal business and social enterprise: the RBC First Peoples Enterprise Accelerator and the RBC Award in Aboriginal Business and Leadership.

The RBC Foundation will provide $100,000 a year to establish the accelerator, a catalyst and resource for sustainable economic growth and diversification in Aboriginal communities.

It will support the development of Aboriginal entrepreneurs and advance early stage businesses and social ventures that contribute to the development of sustainable, healthy economies.

The accelerator will deliver leading edge incubation programming and technical assistance for entrepreneurs, coupled with a strong research and evaluation process, all in conjunction with local Aboriginal partners.

It will be facilitated by RADIUS, the Beedie School of Business’ social innovation lab and venture incubator, in partnership with the EMBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership at the Beedie School of Business.

As well, the RBC Award in Aboriginal Business and Leadership will see the RBC Foundation provide SFU with $30,000 per year in scholarships for the next 10 years to encourage Aboriginal undergraduate and graduate students to consider entrepreneurship as a career option.

At undergraduate level the award will allow students to take advantage of SFU’s many innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives, such as the recently launched interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship and Innovation Certificate.

At the graduate level, it will offer support for new or continuing students in the Beedie School of Business’ Executive MBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership.

“This groundbreaking accelerator and these awards will allow SFU to help develop a new generation of Aboriginal leaders in the realm of entrepreneurship and innovation,” said SFU President Andrew Petter. “We are extremely grateful to RBC for its generosity and vision in providing this support.”

Zabeen Hirji, Chief Human Resources Officer, RBC, said: “Education plays a crucial role in inspiring tomorrow’s Aboriginal leaders to contribute to a sustainable economic future for all.”

“We are proud to partner with SFU to help support creative and innovative Aboriginal entrepreneurs, and student leaders who can identify new opportunities, resources and emerging technologies that will help their businesses and social ventures grow. Their contributions will lead to economic development and community well-being – two things that are imperative to the growth of our country and the protection of our future prosperity.”

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